U.S. Forest Service Mulls Sustainability Certification for National Forests

The U.S. Forest Service is mulling the possibility of obtaining "sustainable" certification for the nation's forests and wants the public to weigh in.

The agency has been studying the feasibility of using established third-party auditors - the Forest Stewardship Council or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative - to certify national forest as being managed in an environmentally sound way.

"A general conclusion among the agencies themselves is that the reduction in costs associated with public controversy and legal challenges ... more than offset the time and expense associated with the certification process," according to a study commissioned by the agency.

The study found that many of the agency's forest management practices were already in line with sustainable certification requirements, but the backlog of forest health management and road maintenance projects would pose challenges.

For more information about the National Forest Certification Study, go online to www.fs.fed.us and click on the "Projects & Policies" link at the left side of the page, then click "Learn more" under the Forest Certification section. Or call Doug MacCleery at the U.S. Forest Service at 202-205-1745.

To submit comments, contact MacCleery at USDA Forest Service, 201 14th St. SW, Mailstop: 1103, Washington, D.C. 20024.